February 20 of 1951 – Los Angeles, a child by the name of Randy Craig Wolfe was born.
Randy was born into music a music family. His uncle, Ed Pearl was the owner and driving force behind the legendary Ash Grove folk club. He was 15 years old when his mother Bernice Pearl and new stepfather, Ed Cassidy (later to become a founding member of the band Spirit), moved to New York City in the summer of 1966 because Cassidy had a number of jazz gigs lined up.
California, Cassidy and Pearl lived in an apartment building in Queens, New York called the Balfour, whose other residents included future Steely Dan co-founder Walter Becker, who cites California’s blues-based guitar style as an influence on his own playing. (In an odd coincidental twist, California and Becker share this same birthdate.)
The stage name “Randy California” was given to him by Hendrix to distinguish him from another Randy in the band (who Hendrix dubbed “Randy Texas”).
After developing his friendship with Jimi Hendrix, Randy California returned to the west coast and with step father Ed Cassidy formed the band Spirit. The band’s demo was produced by Barry Hansen, later to become Doctor Demento. Their biggest commercial success came with the hit single, I Got a Line On You.
Randy California drowned in the ocean while rescuing his twelve-year-old son from a rip current near the home of Bernice Pearl at Molokai, Hawaii. He managed to push his son Quinn (who survived) towards the shore. He was 45 years old.